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What would you do ?

Heatermon Member Posts: 119
Got left a message yesterday from a homeowner. He is going "shopping" today for a new water heater and wants to "pick my brain".

A little history for you - There's a contractor that has called me 3 times this year to give bids for different radiant projects he's working on (he was refered to me by a good forced air contractor that doesn't do radiant, but will do the a/c on projects and recommend me for the radiant). All the jobs I've bid so far are, in his words "Just about to go", but no contracts are signed and no start dates given. The last job I visited had numerous plumbing issues, along with the radiant installation. I met with both the architect, general contractor, and homeowner to go over the radiant system we were proposing, but also gave them all the plumbing information they requested. Now, this homeowner is the one who is "going shopping" and can't remember all the things I told him to consider doing and wants me to call him. Now, my question is "What would you do?". We already have the general contractor on "Double secret probation" (All future consultations will be billed out for time spent) due to his numerous "tire kickings" without purchasing the vehicle and I am wondering if the same treatment is due the homeowner also. Probably in the time spent here venting I could have called the homewner and found out if we really were going to do his radiant system and give him the info he's looking for, but I was wondering "What would you guys do?"


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  • John Felciano
    John Felciano Member Posts: 411
    Draw the line

    there comes a point where you just have to draw the line.Sign a contract and get a deposit.

    I try not to do too much design work without seeing some money.Too many times I've had the customer take my work and go elseware.We may loose a job now and than from it,but sometimes it's a job better lost.

    You can always ask for a design fee refundable after a contract is signed.The cost should be included in your overhead price anyway.

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  • Heatermon
    Heatermon Member Posts: 119

    We do get design fees, except from "qualified" referals (past customers and a short list of people and companies that we are associated with). I'm afraid the general contractor was refered to us by a company that has given us many jobs and referals over the years and we extended him the courtesy of no upfront costs and he has abused his priveleges and is now "on notice" that he is now "on the clock" whenever he talks to us. My question is more about this last homeowner who has had only one contact with us and wants to clarify what we discussed. Rather than ignore and piss him off, I did call, answered his questions and found out that they have hired a plumber to do their remodel, and are still planning to go forward with the radiant system I proposed. If I hear from the general contractor, I will do my part of the job for the price I bid, and if not, they can use whoever they want and the homeowner will remember me as "that nice guy who gave him some helpfull advice". Anyway, I made what I felt is the best way out of a tricky situation.


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  • Wayco Wayne
    Wayco Wayne Member Posts: 615
    I agree

    Sometimes you can make a stink and lose the customer's respect or be informative and helpful to a degree. If you sense no respect for your energy you may politely expain yourself and extricate yourself from the situation. Reminds me of an old customer I had years ago. Sweet little old lady with stainless steel teeth. Her husband was a lawyer and if she didn't get her way she would threaten to sue. She short changed the General Contractor thousands and ran the rest of us around. She called us several times after for more work but somehow I was always to busy to make it out there and had to refer her to some less reliable contractors. Poor thing.

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  • Mad Dog
    Mad Dog Member Posts: 2,595
    Tell him at this point you

    will need a deposit, sorrY? I used to "get used" all the time by gcs and hos. Now, only our loyal customers get free estimates. We've had quite a few "qualified-type" referrals thru our loyal customers jerk us around too - no mo' MD

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